By Austin Ferguson
Despite multiple close contests, the softball team finished the week 1-5 after a trio of doubleheaders against Lehigh, St. Peter’s and Manhattan.
Rider hosted Lehigh on April 10 and played a pair of games at Herb and John Young Field. The first and only matchup of the season between the teams did not go well for the Broncs, who lost both games, 9-0 and 2-1.
The Mountain Hawks came out strong in game one and amassed seven runs on as many hits in the first two innings, capitalizing on two Rider errors.
The Broncs’ offense was able to put a few baserunners on, but were unable to bring them home against the pitching of Parker Boyd.
Lehigh added two more runs to their total off of the bats of Reva Adlerman and Hannah Edwards in the fourth and fifth innings of the first game, which proved more than enough to secure the win for the Mountain Hawks.
The second game of the doubleheader was a much closer affair, with hard play from both teams from beginning to end.
The contest was a pitcher’s duel, pitting Gabriella Nori against sophomore Debra Jones in seven innings of defensive softball.
The first three innings were quiet for the bats of both teams, with neither able to score against each other’s starters.
The top of the fourth broke the silence on Lehigh’s side of things. After getting a pair of baserunners on, a Rider fielding error from freshman infielder Grace Stansfield allowed both Mountain Hawks’ runners to score, putting them up 2-0.
A seventh inning home run from junior designated hitter Elyse Cuttic would put Rider on the board, but was ultimately not enough as the Mountain Hawks took the victory and the sweep.
Head Coach Davon Ortega saw some promise in her team during game two, despite the loss.
“The momentum started,” Ortega said. “We didn’t get the win, but it feels good. The team is starting to come together.”
Rider traveled to Jersey City to take on St. Peter’s in a weekend doubleheader on April 13. Both games went into extra innings with close finishes in both contests.
Rider took an early 1-0 lead off the back of a first-inning single from senior utility player Maddy Chain.
The Peacocks’ Alina Guevara blasted a double deep into center field to drive in the tying run for Saint Peter’s. The hit forced the game into extra innings.
After both teams went hitless in the eighth and ninth innings, a single by junior shortstop Rachael Zeides pushed Rider ahead in the top of the tenth and held on for the win, 3-1.
The Broncs’ game one victory came in thanks to the stellar performance from Jones. She pitched all 10 innings, striking out 12 St. Peter’s hitters and only allowing one run along the way.
Game two’s scoring for St. Peter’s began the same way their scoring ended in game one.
A Guevara double to center field. After a pair of bases-loaded walks in the second inning, the Peacocks took an early 3-0 lead.
Rider shortened the gap in the third and fourth innings, after a pair of RBI singles from junior designated hitter Shelby Miller and junior outfielder Kesley Marigliano brought the game to 3-2.
In the home half of the fourth inning, a home run from Anja Solveig Kane put St. Peter’s back on top. After driving in another run, the Peacocks found themselves up 6-2 heading into the sixth inning.
Miller would start the Broncs’ comeback, hitting another single and driving in two runs to bring the game to 6-4.
After a pinch-hit groundout from freshman pitcher Brooklyn Trujillo drove in another run, Marigliano was up to bat with the game on the line.
Marigliano came in clutch, hitting a single to knot the game at six runs a piece. For the second time that day, Rider and St. Peter’s went into extra innings.
After another quiet eighth and ninth innings, it was the Peacocks’ turn for late-game heroics in the tenth inning. St. Peter’s Guevara hit her third double of the day, driving in the go-ahead run, walking off with the win for the Peacocks, 7-6.
Rider continued their road trip against Manhattan on April 14 and returned home winless on the day.
The first game started as a blowout in favor of the Jaspers, with the Broncs down 7-0 heading into the seventh inning.
Rider’s bats, however, came to life that inning as they tried to muster a comeback against Manhattan.
A last-inning effort that started with a Marigliano double brought the Broncs within two runs. Their luck ran out after senior outfielder Brianna Parisio struck out to end the game, 7-5.
The Broncs’ found themselves behind again in game two, though they would not be able to duplicate their comeback efforts in the first game.
“I think, as a team, we need to change our mindset and realize there is an opportunity to turn the season around and still make a statement,” said Marigliano. “We cannot quit and we need to have the ‘fight’ mindset in order to win every inning.”
Rider’s only hit during the second game came off the bat of senior catcher Kiera Swank in the fifth inning as the Broncs took the loss to Manhattan, 8-0.
“We just didn’t have anything today,” Ortega said. “We started the day flat and although we put up some fight at the end of game one, we just never could figure out how to get ourselves going.”
The Broncs return to Lawrenceville on April 17 to host a doubleheader against Fairleigh Dickinson starting at 2:30 p.m., followed by a conference doubleheader at Quinnipiac on April 20.